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A Cold Summer For Biotech Stocks

By Jerry Knight
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 2, 2004; Page E01

BioVeris has been felled by a family feud.

Celera Genomics isn't going to start testing its new drug this year after all.

MedImmune's spray flu vaccine was a flop.

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Human Genome Sciences still hasn't delivered on the potential that made it a $100 stock -- four years ago.

Summer is always bad for biotechnology stocks. This summer is particularly nasty.

"For a sector that typically runs hot and cold, biotechs, right now, are downright frosty," writes Adam Feuerstein of TheStreet.com, an online biotech commentator.

Many of the local biotechs are suffering from self-inflicted ailments, but even the others are struggling in the stock market.

Martek Biosciences regularly tops lists of top-rated stocks -- it's one of only 11 stocks in the Russell 2000 index to get straight "buy" ratings -- but investors aren't buying. In the past three months, Martek stock has fallen from $70 a share to $46.

Only United Therapeutics, which is expected to announce solid second-quarter results tomorrow, has held up against the summer selloff. Even with the success of its pulmonary hypertension drug, United Therapeutics' stock is down about a dollar since January.

To biotech analysts, the summer slump means this is a good time to buy. Biotech stocks are always cyclical, they say, so the time to invest is during the down cycle.


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